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Hanover's Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School to be renamed

Posted at 8:51 PM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 00:54:39-04

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- The Hanover County school board voted Tuesday to change the names of Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School.

The board voted 4-3 to rename the schools named after leaders of the Confederacy.

For years, the names of both Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School have been a topic of discussion.

In May 2020, a federal judge dismissed a case where the NAACP Hanover County Chapter filed for the school names and mascots to be changed.

The lawsuit stated that with Confederate-named schools, students were being denied an equal opportunity to education, free of compelled speech. The Hanover County NAACP Chapter has filed for an intent to appeal case that slated for Mid-July.

In a July 6 letter addressed to Virginia School Board Chairs, Northam compared the Confederate school names to Confederate statues, saying they have a traumatizing impact on students, families, teachers and staff of all backgrounds.

"When our public schools are named after individuals who advanced slavery and systemic racism, and we allow those names to remain on school property, we tacitly endorse their values as our own. This is no longer acceptable," Northam wrote. "Recognizing the harmful impact these school names have on our children, I am calling on school boards to evaluate the history behind your school names."

Robert Barnette, President of the Hanover County NAACP, said that they are encouraged by the decision that the school board made.

“The school names have been a symbol of inequality for the African American community. The decision by the School Board today was long overdue and a first step towards racial justice in Hanover County. We are encouraged that the Hanover County School Board made the right choice today.”

Community members in support of a name change have been donating to a GoFundMe account to help with paying for the cost of changing the school names and mascots.

"Name changes are happening all over the country right now," LeMar Bowers, Hanover resident and parent, said. "Those doors are opening up and the door that we want to open is to now be able to change at an institutional level. To create equities in schools, to reduce education gaps to improve outcomes in urban communities in rural communities. So what we do in Hanover, we view as a gateway to getting the soul of America back."